ODE TO ROOTS
– text from Mikkel B. Tin about the installation
We have fruit and we have roots. Fruit ripens in light and air, it has colour and shape, it is perceptible. We hope that our cultivation project will bear fruit, and in art we reproduce the harvest as homage to the culture we have created: not just fruit in a dish, but sailing ships, personalities, historical narratives, every thing with a name of its own, in its place, clear and cultivated.
But some artists compose odes to roots. Roots, which are never clear and perceptible, as fruit is: roots that cannot even be called invisible causes of visible effects. Roots, which follow a subterranean logic, far from the time and space of culture, without obvious colour and shape: nameless networks which spread themselves tirelessly, but without leading forwards or backwards, out or in. Roots we do not know, and which we nevertheless recognize as hidden, perhaps suppressed parts of ourselves.
The aim of the root artists – and their great challenge – is to illuminate the parts that roots play in nature’s shadowy metabolism, while simultaneously protecting them from the reductionism of enlightenment. And even when they have cut, soaked and exhibited them in the space of the gallery, they still have to show them to us as the living network of roots, without which no fruit would ripen, the invisible foundation on which our culture’s visible constructions rest. It is not a question of dualism, it is about a strong relationship. It is about how culture is firmly planted in nature and about how nature enfolds culture with an embrace that allows it, discretely but relentlessly, to take back the fruits that our culture plants – one by one.
Mikkel B. Tin, Rauland
ODE TO ROOTS
Gjertrud Hals and Torill Brosten 2010
16. 1 – 14. 2, Prosjektgalleriet, Kunstnersenteret,
Møre og Romsdal
(Project Gallery, Art Centre, County of Møre and Romsdal)
The cold, damp cellar that constitutes the Project Gallery at the Art Centre in the County of Møre and Romsdal has been invaded by nature. Did it creep in through the partially perforated and flaking walls? Or has it laid down roots from below? And is it now forcing its way out of the building? The start of the work is equally difficult to point out as is its end – it literally lives down there between the cellar walls: raw, organic and rather frightening.
In the artwork Ode to Roots, Gertrud Hals and Torill Brosten have taken landscape art with them to the gallery. Their materials: roots, branches and moss have been woven together into a sculpture that literally bursts out of this tiny locale. Despite the rough elements of the materials, the sculptural form has been so delicately put together that only nature itself could have created a correspondingly unified expression.
The artists' early background is in textile work – but they have both subsequently chosen to work with different mediums: Gjertrud Hals, with freestanding sculptures, and Torill Brosten, largely with painting. Together in 2009, in the project, Art in Nature, in Rauma they made the artwork Her kor eg står kan eg sjå dalen [Here, where I stand, I can see the valley], a piece of landscape art in the literal sense of the expression. Ode to Roots can be seen as an extension of their landscape art in Rauma.
It seems difficult to place a label on Ode to Roots. It contains elements of early Landscape Art – and is related to the Arte Povera movement from the close of the 60s, in which “worthless material” was utilized for art. Indeed, it is reminiscent of Conceptual Art, whose basic idea was that the material used to create a work of art is less important than the idea behind it.
However, Ode to Roots is an artwork of our time. As sculpture, the work achieves aesthetic expression by means of its spacious form. The work’s three-dimensional aspect is its most prominent characteristic. As observers, we are encouraged to look at it from various angles – we can move within the work as well as around it. This element of roominess has a physical effect on the viewer – it is difficult to remain indifferent with roots entwined all around one. The way the work tries to grow out of the room somewhat emphasizes the rather claustrophobic atmosphere even further.
Roots – a fundamental part of life for both people and nature. Our human roots are of an immaterial character. Ode to Roots is concrete – absolutely concrete.
Hilde Lien, Art historian